TRAVERSE CITY — Chris Kaminski witnessed a baseball franchise collapse last season.
Which makes him all that more glad he's now with one that's been stable.
Last year, Kaminski played for the Frontier League's London Rippers, a team that started out ominously with its mascot selection that earned a poor reputation from the start. Team officials insisted the name wasn't derived from Jack the Ripper, but the logo said otherwise.
"When I got there, it was a good team," Kaminski said. "Just a lot of stuff that shouldn't be happening was going on."
Kaminski was an early signing by the Traverse City Beach Bums, not long after the season ended.
It was a season in which his team dissolved and suddenly he was playing for a team that roamed the Midwest like nomads without a home. The franchise was taken over by the league and renamed the Road Warriors. The Frontier League purchased uniforms from the Atlantic League, which for several years had a travel team called the Road Warriors.
So, running around the landscape in another team's uniforms, Kaminski was joined by fellow pitcher Shawn Marquardt. They quickly became two of the team's better pitchers.
Not long after the season, the Beach Bums also added Marquardt.
"I was not there for the collapse," Marquardt said. "I heard all about it. It seemed like a tough situation for all the parties involved. Fortunately, I didn't have to go through any of that."
Ticket sales were tough because groups like schools and churches were put off by the team’s name. It didn't help that the Rippers couldn't sell beer at their games — even though the stadium was Labatt Park. The team was evicted from its own downtown merchandise store.
"The management was doing some things they shouldn't have been doing with the finances and expenses of the team," Kaminski said. "And some players — especially the new ones they picked up — weren't getting paid. They were missing checks and stuff like that. One of the sponsors of the team was like, 'Hey, I gave you plenty of money. Where is it at?' And then he backed out. And the head coach was just like, 'We're done, guys.'"